Whether you’re an owner, council member, tenant, developer, or service provider, it is important to recognize we are all connected through the common interest.
As more Strata communities are being built in British Columbia, the need for enhanced collaboration with involved parties is clear. There are many moving parts in stratas, and we should all make an effort to help our communities thrive and prosper:
Owners – have the most important role of all, as they control the destiny of their strata Corporation. Under the governing legislations, the owners are in charge and they make final decisions on their budget, bylaw amendments, council elections and other important matters. Owners should always see themselves as proud “CEOs”, owning their responsibilities and duties.
The following tips are also recommended to strata owners:
- Always attend your general meetings to let your voice be heard and to provide your vote. If you can’t attend in person, at least provide your Proxy to a representative.
- Read your Strata’s meeting Minutes and all community announcements.
- If you disagree with proposed resolutions, think of other ways that will be helpful and constructive to your community as a whole.
- While sometimes it could be hard to separate your personal interests from the community’s, remind yourself, you are all in it together and you must make decisions in the best interest of the Strata Corporation.
- Familiarize yourself with your Bylaws/Rules and try to adhere to them.
- In-suite maintenance items are your responsibility at your cost. You should hire a professional once a year to have your appliances inspected to avoid major breakdowns and flooding. Unit to unit water damage will need to be dealt with, between the affected Owners. Never be without home insurance and ensure you have proper coverage that includes Strata insurance deductible chargebacks!
- Always be mindful of your neighbours and try to keep the noise to a minimum.
- All unit alterations must be approved by your strata corporation through the council, first.
- If you cause spillage on common property, please clean it up or notify your management company.
- Respect your Council’s privacy and always contact them via your Strata Manager.
Council Members – have the duty to act in the best interest of their strata community and to carry out the wishes of the owners as it was provided at the last annual general meeting. The adopted budget will serve as the annual maintenance plan; Within the approved budget, the owners will be expecting services to maintain and upkeep common areas and building systems. Council members will be more productive if they understand their roles and invest time into learning what strata governance entails:
- There are many resources available to council members to learn and to receive education, starting with the ongoing Associa BC Educational Webinars and website blogs on various strata topics.
- Your strata manager will also provide guidance to help you be more efficient and to make prudent decisions.
- All councils should complete a customized operating procedures checklist each year to better deal with workflows and emergencies.
- If you want to serve on council, make sure you set yourself realistic expectations. No personal or hidden agenda should be your motivation, but a calling to serve. There is significant amount of work which you’ll have to perform and you should always remind yourself to stay positive, patient and enthusiastic.
- Council members must maintain the confidentiality of the details and dynamics of council discussions, as well as those items designated as confidential.
- Regardless of their personal viewpoint, council members must not speak against, or in any way undermine council-solidarity once a council decision has been made.
- Council members are expected to attend all council meetings. Council members should be prepared to commit sufficient time and energy to attend to council business.
- Council members shall avoid, in fact and in perception, conflicts of interest and disclose to the President, in a timely manner, any possible conflicts.
- Council members’ contributions to discussion and decision-making should be positive and constructive.
- Council members’ interactions in meetings must be courteous, respectful, and free of animosity.
- Council members should be prepared for meetings and should have read pre-circulated material prior to the meeting.
- The management company (or strata manager) is responsible to the entire strata corporation. However, instructions to the management company (or strata manager) shall flow through the president of the council, unless delegated by council to another person.
- Council members shall not attempt to exercise individual authority or undue influence over the management company (or strata manager).
- Keep building positive work relationships with service providers and take the time to meet with company representatives at least once per year. This is also a recommended way to address any concerns council may have. Also, while reviewing quotations/proposals from prospective service providers, Council should also interview these companies face to face. You should never make a decision based on “paper”.
Tenants – are also part of the community and should enjoy their homes to the fullest. While tenants cannot vote at meetings and their rights and obligations will have some different parameters, which are defined in the Residential Tenancy Act, the goal is still the same: quality living.
All residents are encouraged to get involved in their strata community, whether they are owners or tenants:
- Volunteer to serve on a committee (gardening, building maintenance, social committee, etc.)
- Landlords should provide “TownSQ” access to their tenants as the community web-portal was designed to foster a friendly & cohesive community
- Tenants will also have a voice to be heard even if they cannot vote at meetings.
- Council and strata manager should communicate with both the landlord and tenant, whether it relates to announcements, like a fire inspection, or whether it relates to issues and concerns.
Developers – are proud of their projects and so they should be. It is their name, reputation, and brand that is reflected in all their projects. The customer service experience during the transitional, start-up period is the most crucial. All new buildings will have some teething problems and it will be up to the developer’s customer service department to handle both common area and in-suite issues effectively, while also relying on the owners, strata council and management company:
- Developers should always hire a management company that has the experience and skill set in new construction stratas.
- Management companies can help developers draft the interim budget that will reflect the actual service needs of the building.
The first budget should also include “professional services” for an independent engineering review, pertaining to deficiencies and warranties. Management companies are not qualified to determine what is a deficiency and the strata manager can only assist to liaise between parties and to facilitate workflows. Management companies may also charge extra to provide developer related services as the added work can be significant and outside of the normal, day to day operations.
- After a warranty report was filed, developers and warranty companies should always reply promptly to the strata council and provide a reasonable timeline to address all concerns.
Service Providers – will keep the building functioning. Without proper maintenance and services, buildings will fall into disrepair and the community will suffer. Service providers should always be proactive and provide the strata council and strata manager with regular updates:
- Don’t wait until a system failure but make recommendations for proactive servicing and even upgrades.
- Request a site meeting, at least once per year, with council to review your services and building systems. Council will appreciate your proactive approach.
- In your report include before and after pictures.
- Your crew should be clean, wear uniforms with your company’s logo and conduct themselves professionally.
- Your invoices should include all pertinent information.
We are all in this together and we are much stronger together than apart.
Laszlo Antal - Associa BC - Business Development